Flat 12 Bierwerks “Flat Jack Pumpkin” Pumpkin Ale is 5.7% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a “craft beer glass”.
Appearance: This got a steady pour, which didn’t produce much by way of head. This has a light amber color with great clarity. The bubbles seem to indicate moderate carbonation.
Smell: I get some acidic cidery qualities with light malt and some forthright spicing. There’s not much by way of pumpkin in the aroma. The malt has a slight toast to it, and is otherwise pretty tame. The spicing is the centerpiece, and is fairly strong. I get definite punchy ginger, and maybe some other spicing of cinnamon and something that comes across as having slight artificiality. Finally, there is some honey and light caramel sweetness, and a bit of whipped cream. Nice spice-forward and interesting aroma.
Taste: I get definite spice character up front, with some pepper that lasts. This has something along the lines of vegetal squash, though it isn’t so prominent. The strong flavors up front are the spices, which involve notes of ginger, pepper, and something hard to pinpoint. It is a kind of earthy and woody spicing. The malt in this is pretty tame, bringing some toasty notes. This has a strong honey and whipped cream sweetness. Not much by way of a hop profile. This finishes with the strong spices breaking through the malty sweetness and lingering. More bitter spicing comes along in the prolonged aftertaste.
Feel: This beer is light bodied with moderate to heavy carbonation and a kind of peppery and bitter feel from the spices. The malt is very smooth, and the spices add some texture. OK here.
Drinkability: This would be incredibly drinkable, were the spices not hanging on so much. As it stands, it is still pretty decent here.
Overall: I think there are some good flavors to this one. The spicing is interesting, and front and center. The smooth semi-creamy malt is nice. I wish there were more pumpkin flavor. Whatever pumpkin there is gets sort of lost in the spices. And the spices feel as if they just sit on top of the beer and aren’t well incorporated, like a too-heavy dose of dry spicing. In any case, this is certainly more interesting than a lot of the standard “pumpkin pie” spiced pumpkin ales on the market. I’d recommend trying it if you know you like a lot of spice character. This reminds me some of Penn’s Pumpkin Roll Ale, in that there is a kind of creaminess to the malt that has some strong peppery qualities on top. Though, Penn’s had a lot more by way of bright fruity flavors, and this is more earthy and woody. In any case, this offering from Flat 12 Bierwerks is a sweet and spicy beer that is off the beaten path of typical pumpkin ales.
Overall Rating: **1/4
About Flat 12 and their “Flat Jack Pumpkin”: Flat 12 Bierwerks opened to the public in late December of 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. They used ‘Flat 12′ in their name because of the flathead 12-cylinder engine, which is symbolic of the strong automobile manufacturing industry in Indianapolis’ history. ‘Bierwerks’ was chosen to reflect some of the German influence on the culture of “Holy Cross”, the neighborhood the brewery is located in. Flat 12 didn’t begin bottling until early 2012, and has since reached 5 year-round offerings in bottles: their “Walkabout” Pale Ale, “Half Cycle” IPA, “Upside Down” Blonde, “Pogues Run” Porter, and “Hello My Name is Amber” Amber Ale. Since an expansion in 2013, four seasonals have joined the bottle lineup: a milk stout, cucumber kölsch, black ale, and their pumpkin ale.
I spoke with Rob Caputo, brewmaster and co-founder, who explained how they make their “Flat Jack”. To get a bit more dryness, pale ale base malt is used. Pumpkin puree is added in during the mash process, and then the spices join in in the whirlpool. Rob noted that the pale ale malt base also helps the spices to come through a bit more. Apparently, Rob settled on this special blend of Indian spices during his long period of home-brewing this pumpkin ale in his backyard. This interestingly spiced beer hits 22 IBU’s, and is one of Flat 12’s bigger fan favorites.